Many people have a certain image of magickians, thanks in large part to pop culture and the media. But, popular to contrary thought, you simply cannot just chant a few learned words, wave a wand around, and experience some great force of magick. Magick is far more complicated than that. And, a whole lot more fun!
I often wonder if the non-magick community realizes just how hard we magickians, witches, and other occult practitioners work at our art and religions. Can they relate to how hard it is to concentrate at the depth that magick requires? Do they need to consistently practice doing what they love? Are they able to remove all negative thoughts from their mind?
When I initially began my journey into magick and the occult, I, too, duly misunderstood the amount of work that goes into magickal practice. The first book that I purchased was Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig. I loved making myself comfortable in the evening hours and reading a chapter or two from a book that had everything that, at the time, I was looking for. For me, it was my beginner's bible on the subject of magick; I could also see how it would be very useful for me once I gained several more years of experience, as well.
While I was immersing myself in Modern Magick, however, I ran into a problem: I found myself reading the book but not practicing the techniques I was learning. I wanted so desperately to soak up the entirety of information presented in the book, but I wasn't prepared (and certainly not looking) for the hard work that honing my techniques entailed. It didn't occur to me how necessary these skills would be; I felt that as long as I knew the information contained in the book backwards and forwards, my actual "work" would be limited to next to none. I sincerely learned how wrong I was.
No matter how many books (good, bad, or otherwise) you read on magick (or any other occult subject), you must try the techniques for yourself. That is why they are provided. Once you've tried the techniques and exercises, you must then practice them. How can something be worth learning if you're not dedicated enough to hone your skills?
I personally believe that magick is not given to any of us. While some people might be better equipped to study the magickal arts than others, magick requires studiousness, dedication, and practice; we work hard for the knowledge that we gain. Magick is something deliberate and purposeful, not something granted with the wave of a wand and the dash of a hat. We will the magick ourselves. We attract the magick that happens from day to day.
When I say that we "attract the magick," I mean just that: we bring it into our lives by the use of our thoughts. We practice very hard to learn how to block all of the negative thoughts that enter our minds, and how to then turn them into positive energy. Though it may sound easy at first, it is quite a difficult task for any magician. An example: you do a ritual or spell to gain financial prosperity (for our purposes, let's say that you will be financially satisfied with ten dollars). Once you finish the ritual, you are unable to focus on the positive energy of the spell and instead concentrate on the negative energy around you. By the end of the day, a crisp, ten-dollar bill has yet to appear in your pocket; you think to yourself, "I am never going to get that ten dollars that I need." This small amount of negative energy (even with the positive energy, will, and focus you directed during your spell) is enough to skew the hard work of your spell. Magick is, in itself, a self-fulfilling prophecy: because of the power of the mind, results will correspond with that which you truly believe. At this point, you will never get that ten dollars; while it is possible that the money could have been presented to you in another way (say, a ten-dollar discount at the store), your negative thoughts would have prevented you from seeing this positive alternative.
Magick must be practiced with the best of intentions and a belief in what you are doing. If you are confident and truly believe in the magick you have spent so long studying, you will reap the rewards in your life. You will have attracted these positive things to you by magickal means: you have told the universe that you really do want that for which you are asking, and the universe has responded by the law of attraction.
It is, however, quite hard to train your mind to think in such a positive outlook; this is why the practice of the magickal arts is so necessary. As a new magickian, one way that I have found to enhance my magick and positive view was through the use of thought forms. This is a practice that can be done anywhere, anytime, and can greatly help you in your practice of magick. Magical Use of Thought Forms, by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and J.H. Brennan, was especially helpful for me. This is another book I recommend to new magickians, as it illustrates how to perform magick with only the use of your mind. The techniques used are also broken down in a step-by-step fashion to help you in your learning process.
When I realized for myself that much practice is needed to accomplish what I desired through magick, I began to practice and read each every chance that I had; it proved to be one of the best things I have ever done in my life. If it weren't for the books available to me that I read (and still read), the hours I spend meditating, and the time I dedicate to the practice of the magickal arts and the occult, I'm not sure where (if at all) on my magickal path I'd be.
Though I am still a new magickian (having only studied for the past three years), magick has taken me places I never dared dream. It has given me far more than I ever expected to gain. When I light a few candles and lay out all the tools that I need for the night upon my sacred altar, my mind leaves this world of troubles and trials behind and I enter into a world that is completely mine.
And so, I will continue to study all of the great books that give me the mass of information that I need. I will continue practicing the powerful rituals that I enjoy doing so much, and I will become the magickian that will direct his life in a particular direction by attracting the good, the powerful, and the right into it; I trust my fellow magickians to do the same.